1559 Phillip II King of the New World – Marriage of Phillip II and Isabella, 1559. Betts-5.
1559 Phillip II King of the New World – Marriage of Phillip II and Isabella, 1559. Betts-5. Copper-Gilt. VF/XF. 38 mm, 28.0 g. Obverse: Bust of Philip II. PHILIPPVS. II. HISPAN. ET NOVI ORBIS OCCIDVI REX. In exergue: J. PAVL. POG. F (Giovanni Paolo Poggini Fecit). Reverse: Bust of Queen Isabella. .ISABELLA REGINA PHILIPPI. II. HISPAN. REGIS. This medal by Giovanni Poggini is one of the earliest Colonial American medals listed in Betts, proclaiming Phillip II as King of Spain and the New World. It commemorates the 1559 marriage of Phillip II to Isabella of Valois. The unusual pair of closely drilled holes above Phillip II reveals the medal’s important use; portraits from this era show that it was customary for medals to be sewn through those holes and attached to a hat or lapel. This display of allegiance was likely reserved for important supporters and members of the court. The underlying copper is bleeding through the gilt on the high points of the medal, evidence of long use. During the reign of Phillip II, this medal - with gilt originally appearing to be a gold medal - was worn as a prominent emblem of Royal stature.
This is much more than an historical medal; it is also an example of renaissance art and sculpture by Poggini. This is an exceedingly rare as a struck example of this medal. This is the only known gilt-copper example extant, and one of only two known struck in copper (with only 2 other struck examples known in silver). A near pristine struck example of Betts-5 in copper sold in the Heritage Adams sale (Lot 3552) for $8,812.50. While perhaps imperfect from a numismatic standpoint; the history of the medal - its use reflected by the sewing holes and worn gilt - should hold a far greater value to the true historian.